Jaguar Land Rover : FlashForward to 2014…

Clive Goldthorp

AROnline reckons that some of Jaguar Land Rover’s (JLR’s) PR people may well have been watching Episode 1 of Five’s new American science fiction drama series FlashForward last Monday evening because Autocar.co.uk has today published two articles by Julian Rendell giving FlashForward-like glimpses of Jaguar’s Future Product Programme. JLR’s take on FlashForward has, though, clearly been prompted by a desire to counter some of the bullish comments made by the likes of Unite’s Dave Osborne in response to last week’s announcement of JLR’s new Business Plan.

However, although the representatives of the Trades Unions with members at JLR’s Castle Bromwich and Solihull plants have understandable concerns about the news that one of the two plants will close after 2014, commercial logic suggests that the adoption of such a strategy will be vital to JLR’s long-term survival. Indeed, Autocar.co.uk’s Julian Rendell made precisely that point in his “Why Jaguar’s plant closure was inevitable” blog dated the 24th September, 2009.

Interestingly, Rendell reckons that the Solihull plant will be the one chosen for closure – JLR owns 300 acres of farmland adjacent to the plant and, as he points out, “you can build an awful lot of houses on 300 acres of prime development land.”

Interestingly, Rendell reckons that the Solihull plant will be the one chosen for closure – JLR owns 300 acres of farmland adjacent to the plant and, as he points out, “you can build an awful lot of houses on 300 acres of prime development land.” However, whilst that will probably not be the only factor in the decision-making process, the aluminium manufacturing capacity at Castle Bromwich and Land Rover’s reportedly persistent quality issues might well also weigh against Solihull’s survival.

Autocar’s Rendell, who appears to have an extensive network of informed sources at JLR, has now been able to disclose details of two new Jaguar models which are, in all probability, intended for production at Castle Bromwich and which give credence to his contention that Land Rover’s Solihull plant will be the one to close in five or six years’ time.

Rendell provides an informative insight into the current debate within Jaguar about the frontal styling of the BMW Z4-sized front-engined, rear-driven Jaguar XE and the market positioning of the next-generation XK coupé and convertible in his “New Jaguar XE: more details” story. However, in his “Jaguar hatch to launch in 2014” article, Rendell also reveals that the company plans to launch a compact five-door sports hatch, featuring lightweight alloy bodywork and new direct-injection petrol engines, as a £40k entry-level model during 2014.

There’s a growing feeling with the R-D6 that we really had something very innovative, fresh and different. Maybe we missed something back then, but the idea is even more applicable now.” A Jaguar insider

The new sports hatch has been inspired by Jaguar’s R-D6 Concept which was first displayed at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2003. Rendell quotes one source as saying: “There’s a growing feeling with the R-D6 that we really had something very innovative, fresh and different. Maybe we missed something back then, but the idea is even more applicable now.” Indeed, another Jaguar insider already refers to the new sports hatch as the ‘R-D7’… Rendell suggests that the ‘R-D7’ will be around 4.3m in length, have a wheelbase about 70mm shorter than that of the current Jaguar XF and be powered by an all-new V6 engine with a 60-degree block and capacities ranging from 3.0 to 3.5 litres in addition to the new four-cylinder diesel engine which should be introduced in late 2011.

AROnline believes JLR’s apparent readiness to release details of ‘Project R-D7’ to Autocar on an unofficial basis does, at least, show that the companies’ owner, Tata Motors Limited, fully understands how such disclosures can improve the British public’s image of the relevant companies. A pity, then, that MG Motor UK Limited’s parent company, SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, has still, apparently, to appreciate the benefits of giving MG enthusiasts their own FlashForward-type snapshot of the marque’s future…

Clive Goldthorp

About the Author:

Clive claims that his interest in the BMC>MG story dates back to his childhood in the 1960s when the family’s garage premises were leased to a tenant with an Austin agency. However, back in the 1920s and 1930s, his grandmother was one of the country’s first female Garage Proprietors so cars probably run in his genes! Admits to affairs with Alfa Romeos, but has more recently owned an 06/06 MG TF 135 and then a 15/64 MG3 Style… Clive, who was AROnline’s News Editor for nearly four years, stood down from that role in order to devote more time to various Motor Racing projects but still contributes articles on as regular basis as his other commitments permit.

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  1. KC says:

    I’d never heard of the R-D6 before, so I Googled it and came across these images:

    http://www.jag-lovers.org/concepts/rd6.html

    My immediate reaction to the three-quarter-rear shot was “the new Scirocco” (although I agree that doesn’t apply to the front shot).

  2. Mark says:

    Mmm… saw the pics. Front end: Ditch the grille – it doesn’t work in a MiTo way or an Alfa way. It just floats. Something a little more aggressive needed.

  3. Stuart says:

    Wow! KC, thank you for the pics. I think they should lose the Mazda doors & make it a pure 2-door, otherwise it would be seen as a derivative.

    However, would a small Jag like that work? I’m looking at MINI, Volvo C30, Merc A Class etc… but the Jag would be my choice if it was on the market.

  4. Dr Bobby Love says:

    Stuart… The doors are one of the most important parts! Think about how you enter the rear of any normal 5/4 door car… and, if you really think about it, the rear doors are swinging on the least logical pillar so having suicide doors on the back is a great idea!

  5. Dr Bobby Love says:

    Well, excluding the floor, of course 😉

  6. Chris Chapman says:

    Solihull has fairly new Press Shop capacity, which could be very expensive to move, and possibly space left after engine/transmission production closure and the shift of Freelander to Halewood.

    I could see the Defender hall being emptier before too long with, for example, production shifted to a country with lower labour costs (incidentally why haven’t JLR considered doing its replacement using the old P38 or Disco II drivetrain/chassis at very low investment cost rather than coming off the presumably more expensive/complex LR4?).

    A vacant Defender hall and the 300 acres (partly intended for a railhead?)could accommodate Castle Bromwich nicely – especially as the latter is increasingly in a major shopping/leisure area. Solihull is surrounded by houses but there were arguably mainly built to house blue and white collar employees at the plant.

    There is also Birmingham airport, which would like to expand – possibly this would not be politically/environmentally acceptable at the moment although there was a barmy idea to build another Heathrow near Rugby while LHR runway 3 might now be on the buffers. Longbridge is possibly struggling to get tenants for the Business Park but, even so, Solihull might be partly developed as a Business Park offshoot of an expanded/now major airport.

    I would bet more on Castle Brom closing but has anyone put Gaydon and Whitley into the equation? JLR with all its admin/engineering operations on the same site as assembly could make a lot more sense…

  7. Alex Scott says:

    I think I quite like this, the Jaguar Kitten 🙂 Can I have one please ?

  8. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Looks great, and very relevant. What chance a hybrid?

  9. Robert says:

    PLEASE no hybrid! No more electric Datsuns. This just will not work. It,s marginal that Audi can pull it off with the now ancient A3. This will just further ‘rubbish’ the Jaguar name again, after the awful X-TYPE. Stick to making sexy saloons and make an open roadster in the Boxster vein. Maybe make that a hybrid, but please no, not a Jaguar hatchback.

    People who want a ‘posh’ hatch will continue – and rightly so in my opinion – to buy Golfs, BMW’s 1 Series and the A3. It would be impossible for Jaguar to break into that market. It has no track record and the image does not reflect that of a premium hatch. Think Jaguar and a hatchback is not what you think of, just like a Mondeo clone wasn’t either and look what happened to that. Similar to Volvo with the C30 and that is quite talented.

  10. KeithB says:

    @Robert
    Hatchbacks can work in a premium market! The SD1 is prime example of a beautifully executed design – it is one of the few cars that look good from every angle. A shame, though, about the way it was thrown together. Audi and BMW have rediscovered this with new premium “fastbacks”.

    Don’t forget the E-type was a hatchback! The problems lies with the wording – hatchback does convey an image of family runabouts like Fiestas and Golfs whereas “fastback” has altogether different connotations – if the design and execution is right, then it can succeed.

  11. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Sorry, but you need to get into the real world. If you’re not greener now, you won’t survive. Much higher fuel prices are coming.

  12. Crapmeister says:

    and made in India!

  13. Jonboy4969 says:

    With at least 5 variations and three brand new cars, not to mention the reintroduction from the “R” Division of bespoke C, D-and E types (built to order on modern running gear) on the horizon, Jaguar are in the mix to go from strength to strength…

    The new, as yet un-released, XKR-S is stonkingly fast and sounds fantastic. I was lucky enough to be at Gaydon when that and a “secret” Aston were on the go… I even had a go in an XKR and was shocked to learn that I went at 170mph.

  14. Jaguar will have to make smaller cars for the company to survive. The time for big, gas-guzzling cars is over.

  15. Crapmeister General says:

    Bring back the X-TYPE!

  16. Stewart says:

    John Hollander :Jaguar will have to make smaller cars for the company to survive. The time for big, gas-guzzling cars is over.

    As it was in the ealy 70’s, late 70’s, mid 80’s, late 90’s…. I can go on and big gas-guzzling cars are still with us. No, small Jaguars will do for the name the same things small Rovers did… make the marque another Ford or Vauxhall competitor. If JLR do have to make a small car, they should put another badge on the front, like, err… Rover?

  17. Crapmeister General says:

    Could TATA bring back the X-TYPE under the Rover badge?

  18. @Crapmeister General
    I regret to say that a Rover revival does not appear to feature in Jaguar Land Rover’s new Business Plan.

    However, JLR do, apparently, intend to position the Jaguar marque even more firmly upmarket as a competitor for the likes of Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz in the Prestige sector and that would, at least in theory, create room for a relaunched Rover to be positioned in the Premium sector as a competitor for the likes of Saab, Volkswagen and Volvo etc. at some point in the future…

    Mind you, quite where the prospective new owners of Saab (Koenigsegg Group AB?) and Volvo (Geely Holding Group Company Limited?) will position those two marques remains to be seen.

    Anyway, I just hope that JLR will adopt the maxim “never say never” with regard to any potential revival of the Rover marque!

  19. Crapmeister General says:

    Here’s hoping. An X-TYPE-based R75 replacement could be quite good.

  20. @Crapmeister General

    I agree and should be really interested to learn whether or not Tata Motors Limited and/or JLR ever gave any serious consideration to such a proposal – assuming, of course, that there were no IPR issues with Ford Motor which would have precluded JLR from using the Ford Mondeo-based X-TYPE’s platform as the basis for a new D-segment Rover.

  21. iJag says:

    It does really look like the Volkswagen Scirocco.

    Phil @ i Jag

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